Mark Wallis was left to reflect on what could have been after seeing his attempt at winning a third Greyhound Trainers Association Trainers Championship fall short at the final hurdle on Tuesday.
After leading for much of the competition, the Lakenheath handler was overhauled following a late charge by Kevin Hutton in a final-heat decider, just like the 2015 renewal at Sittingbourne.
For much of the early stages of the event, which was staged at Towcester for the first time, the competition looked set to be a straight tussle between Wallis and Jimmy Wright.
While Wright landed the first two races courtesy of wins from Slippery Amigo and Droopys Trapeze, Wallis, having seen each of his first three runners reach the frame, seized the initiative after race four thanks to victory from Rubys Rascal in the first stayers contest.
Although Ribble Aon stayed on take what looked a valuable second in the bitches event, Wallis saw his lead cut after Ferryforth Fran could only finish fifth in the second stayers prize behind Huarache Madison, the second of two successive winners for a resurgent Hutton.
With the finale a three-way shoot-out between Wallis, Wright and Hutton, it was to be the latter who emerged victorious as Velvet Blaze secured an all important second, with Rubys Razzle only managing fifth, enough to give Hutton his third successive title by a point.
“We’ve tried our hardest and come close again. It was always going to come down to that last race and unfortunately things didn’t go our way,” said Wallis.
“Rubys Razzle was put in there in the hope of running on to nick a place but she couldn’t quite get there. Fair play to Kevin Hutton and his team. We always enjoy doing battle with him. He seems to have a knack at winning this title.
“It would have been nice for the team to have rather than the personal glory for me. I love winning the overall championship and those individual titles.”
While the overall result was not what the eight-time champion trainer had hoped for, there were, in his eyes, several positives to be taken out of the meeting.
“We have got to be pleased how Rubys Rascal bounced back from his defeat in a match race behind Roxholme Magic, while Kingdom Legend looks a massive prospect for the future after finishing second in the puppy race on his first start for us,” added Wallis.
Away from the action at the Northamptonshire venue, Saffrons Tina booked her place in the final of the Molson Coors 3 Steps To Victory at Sheffield on Tuesday after finishing third in the first semi-final.
“That was a brilliant result. I am really pleased for the Markwallisgreyhounds Racing Club as it is big for them to have a Category One finalist,” said Wallis.
“She will stay the 660 metres I am sure, so we could bounce back next week.”
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Roswell Romanov, Rubys Razzle, Roswell Red Kite and Garryglass Champ will contest the opening round of the Category One Tigerloanscompany.com Gold Cup at Harlow.